Thursday, October 30, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Leucadendron 'Pisa'

I love Leucadendron.  I brought one, L. 'Wilson's Wonder,' here in a pot from my old garden, which lacked the sun to support more.  Once in the ground, its growth exploded and I've planted many more since.  L. 'Wilson's Wonder' was featured in a prior favorites post, which also included a peek at this week's favorite, Leucadendron 'Pisa,' then confined to a decorative pot.  This week, L. 'Pisa' finally got a new home.  I carefully dug it out of its pot and planted it in the new bed along the backyard patio.

More plants will be added soon to keep the Leucadendron, Furcraea, and Anigozanthos company

The foliage is a little spare around the base.  I plan to put an Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt,' also currently confined to a pot and showing its unhappiness with that arrangement, at the foot of the Leucadendron.  I hope that and a little judicious pruning will take care of its bare limbs.

In its pot, Euphorbia 'Dean's Hybrid' filled in around the base of Leucadendron 'Pisa'

The silvery foliage is the evergreen shrub's chief attribute.  It produces cream-colored flower-like bracts and cones but mine has yet to do so.  Maybe next spring.  In the meantime, I'm happy just to gaze at the foliage.

L. 'Pisa's' foliage is particularly beautiful when backlit by the sun

According to San Marcos Growers, L. 'Pisa' is hardy to 20-25F (minus 6.7 to 3.9C) and prefers full sun and moderate water.  In its former position in a pot, it got morning shade and afternoon sun.  In its new position, only about 8 feet away, it gets sun from early morning to mid-afternoon, at least this time of year.   Hopefully, it'll be happy with the new placement.  Estimates of its height range from 4 to 8 feet (1.2 to 2.4m) tall and 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5m) wide.  Mine is currently about 3 feet tall and almost 2 feet wide.

A hybrid of Leucadendron floridum, Leucadendron 'Pisa' is my favorite plant this week and my contribution to Loree's favorite plants feature at danger garden.  However, I can't resist showing you another silver conebush, L. meridianum 'More Silver,' a recent purchase.  Isn't she pretty?

Leucadendron 'More Silver' has her feet in the ground but her body in a tomato cage, which provides protection against the malicious raccoons until her roots are firmly established

Click here to see Loree's favorite and to find links to what other gardeners' are drooling over this week.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Monday, October 27, 2014

In a Vase on Monday: Pretty in Pink

This week, there are finally enough Camellia sasanqua blossoms to cut for a vase.  And there was no difficulty in finding flowers to complement their pink color, even though my garden relies more on yellow, orange, and blue than pink.  My garden is rebounding as temperatures cool.

Front view

Back view

I'm glad I started with a good-sized vase because, when I was done, it was stuffed full.  Here's what I included:

  • Camellia sasanqua (no ID)
  • Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink'
  • Eustoma grandiflorum 'Echo White' (aka Lisianthus)
  • Leptospermum scoparium 'Pink Pearl'
  • Lobularia maritima (aka sweet alyssum)
  • Pentas lanceolata, 4 varieties
  • Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus'

The mass of dark pink Camellia sasanqua, planted along the side of the house facing the vegetable garden, came with the house

Cuphea 'Starfire Pink' makes a great filler in a vase - and the hummingbirds absolutely love it

The white Eustoma is making another appearance after hunkering down during the heat of summer

2 of the 4 varieties of Pentas lanceolata are shown in close-up here with a stem of rosemary

My biggest decision with this vase was where to put it.  There's not a lot of pink inside the house either.  I tried it first in the dining area.

This stone wall is the back of the living room fireplace - the open cavity to the right is part of what was constructed as an indoor barbecue when this 1950s-era house was built

Not bad but as the cat likes to jump up and sleep in the alcove on the right, the placement felt like an accident waiting to happen.  So I moved the vase to the fireplace mantle in the master bedroom.

Cathy at Rambling in the Garden hosts this weekly meme.  Visit her to see what she's arranged to celebrate Monday and to find links to the creations of other participating gardeners.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Revisiting Lynda's Succulent Garden

In late July, I published a post on the succulent beds my friend Lynda created at the front of her house.  Lynda, an artist, strives for perfection when she creates something so it's to be expected that she'd fiddle with her garden beds, seeking to match the image in her head with the one before her eyes.   Earlier this month, the two of us took yet another succulent shopping trip and Lynda went back to work on her beds.

Again, only half of the contents of this trunk are mine!

Inspired by the following video, Lynda removed the rest of the shrubs from her front beds, packed her succulents more densely, and used rocks and other tools to create height variations.  Her most novel approach was to place groups of succulents within frames created by the tops of large bottomless black plastic pots, hiding the raised hedges with rocks.


Lynda's revamped beds look great.  Here are the beds to the right of her driveway:

Lynda added drought tolerant Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' here and there (as shown in the upper right) for a touch of softness

Both Lynda and I coveted the Opuntia violacea 'Santa Rita' (shown here at the center of the photo) but only Lynda was brave enough to handle it (although, despite precautions, she did pay the price)

And here are the beds to the left of the driveway:

Lynda used black Mexican beach pebbles to give herself a path for use in maintaining the bed

We both bought a large Agave desmettiana 'Variegata' (shown here in the foreground) on our last nursery run - like mine, Lynda's came with lots of pups

You'll note that there's still room for a few more additions.  I expect we'll make another trip in search of succulents before the year is out.  Inspired by Lynda's efforts, I've been working on my own street-side succulent border.  I'll provide a post on that work-in-progress soon.

*Note: All but the first photo are Lynda's own.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Friday, October 24, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Pennisetum 'Fireworks'

I've developed a keener interest in ornamental grasses since we moved into our current house almost 4 years ago.  My most recent acquisition is Pennisetum 'Fireworks,' a sport of P. setaceum and P. macrostachys.  While it would be premature for me to make any predictions concerning its long-term performance after just 2 months in my garden, I'm pleased with it thus far.  I bought it mainly for the vibrant red-pink foliage but also because it's said to stay smaller than the P. setaceum 'Rubrum' that came with the garden.

Estimates of its mature size vary from source to source ranging from as small as 1 foot (30 cm) tall and wide to 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and wide.  Mine are placed along the edge of one wall and at the front of another bed so, in this case, I'm hoping they stay at the smaller end of the range.

The variegation is said to be unstable, especially when the plant is grown in full sun.  All of mine get late afternoon shade so I hope they'll retain their current bright color.

The flowers are very similar to those on P. setaceum 'Rubrum,' although I've noted that a lot of 'Fireworks' plumes develop a crimp at the end.  The flowers are long-lasting when used in floral arrangements.

This grass is hardy to 25F (minus 3.9C) and, according to San Marcos Growers, it has proven to be root hardy to 20F.  Most sources claim it has low water needs once established.  Mine, still in the process of developing their root systems, currently get watered twice a week.

Pennisetum 'Fireworks' is my favorite plant this week.  Please visit Loree at danger garden, the host for this weekly review, to see her favorite and to find links to other gardeners' selections.

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nursery hopping in San Diego County

A friend and I made the rounds of 6 nurseries in San Diego County on Saturday.  As all were relatively small and freeway close, it wasn't as daunting a trip as it might seem.  There are some larger, inland nurseries we'd like to see but we left those for another day.

Our first stop was Shore Gardens in San Clemente, selected mainly to provide us an opportunity to stop and stretch our legs after more than an hour on the road.  It appeared to cater to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood, offering a general range of plants but, as proved characteristic of all our stops, there was a good selection of drought tolerant plants, as well as some of the tropical plants you expect to find along the coast.

I didn't buy anything, although I did give a moment's thought to purchasing this, thinking that maybe the neighborhood raccoons would respect the newcomer's territorial rights:

Our next stop was Barrels & Branches in Encinitas.  Another general garden center, it specializes in selling barrels (for planting and water storage), as well as plants.  A large area was dedicated to succulents and other drought tolerant plants.  I heard the owner tell another visitor that she was making the garden available for special events, like weddings, too.

This beautiful variegated agave wasn't identified

But this one was: Agave celsii

The garden mascot (picture taken by my friend)

I took home a few plants but nothing unusual.

My purchases included 3 Lomandra 'Breeze,' obtained at a good price and 1 Pentas lanceolata (not shown)

We hit another nursery, Cordova, on our way to lunch.  It specialized in succulents, pottery, garden furniture and indoor plants.  The small succulents were very well priced and we spent quite awhile reviewing the large range of varieties available.

Cordova also had a greeter, a 31 year old female parrot named "Paco" who called hello but otherwise refused to speak

I left there with a dozen small succulents, already planted in my street-side succulent border, and an Anigozanthos, sold for a very reasonable price.

After lunch, we visited Solana Succulents, which is owned and operated by Jeff Moore, an expert in the creation of undersea-style succulent gardens and the author of a new book entitled "Under the Spell of Succulents."  You can find an article on him, written by Debra Lee Baldwin, herself an author of a few books on succulents, here.  His nursery requires exploration, as plants are crammed in everywhere.  Many were unlabeled but he was happy to identify them when asked.

Solana also had a mascot, Lucy - my friend captured this photo of her front half

But I got my own photo of her back half

Of course, I bought a few things at Solana Succulents, including Moore's new book.  The following plants came home with me:

Moore wasn't positive of the ID on this agave but he thinks it's A. applanata

This one is Dyckia marnier-lapostellii

And this one, which I've already planted in my street-side border, is Senecio amaniensis

From Solana Succulents, we headed back north, stopping at Glorious Gardens in Encinitas.  This is a retail off-shoot of a landscaping business run by 2 women.  The retail store is very small but was packed with interesting plants and decorative items.

The truck at the front of the store has a driver in seasonally appropriate attire

The store includes a miniature art gallery

I believe these photographs were taken by one of the owners

An interesting take on a plant hanger

Constrained by my checkbook and the space in my friend's car, I took home just one plant from Glorious Gardens but it's one I've been looking for:

Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' - the agave look-alike was in a one-gallon pot for $18 so how could I pass it up? 

There was a wholesale succulent seller next door to Glorious so we popped in there before heading home.  If the seller's establishment had a name, I didn't see it.  Advertised as a veteran-owned business, the owner and his 2 dogs were very low-key.  He checked a reference list to identify the plants he sold me.

The plant on the right is Kalanchoe orgyalis (aka copper spoons) but the seller identified the plant on the left as Echeveria pulv-oliver but I don't think that's correct as it doesn't have fuzzy leaves - can anyone identify it for me?

That was it for our trip to San Diego.  My friend is already planning our next expedition, however, I'd like to get what I've already purchased planted and complete my preparation of the new planting areas at the front of the house first.  Still, there's a fall plant sale at the local South Coast Botanic Garden this weekend that I don't intend to miss...

All material © 2012-2014 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party